Purity and Danger Monoskop

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Purity and Danger, This remarkable book which is written in a very graceful lucid and. polemical style is a symbolic interpretation of the rules of purity and. pollution Mary Douglas shows that to examine what is considered as. unclean in any culture is to take a looking glass approach to the ordered. patterning which that culture strives to establish Such an approach. affords a universal understanding of the rules of purity which applies. equally to secular and religious life and equally to primitive and modern. M A RY D O U G L A S,and Danger,A N A N A LY S I S. OF THE CONCEPTS OF,P O L L U T I O N A N D TA B O O. LONDON AND NEW YORK,First published in 1966,ARK Edition 1984. ARK PAPERBACKS is an imprint of,Routledge Kegan Paul Ltd.
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada,by Routledge. 29 West 35th Street New York NY 10001, Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor Francis Group. This edition published in the Taylor Francis e Library 2001. 1966 Mary Douglas 1966, All rights reserved No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or. utilized in any form or by any electronic mechanical or other means now known. or hereafter invented including photocopying and recording or in any. information storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the. publishers,British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN 0 415 06608 5 Print Edition,ISBN 0 203 12938 5 Master e book ISBN.
ISBN 0 203 17578 6 Glassbook Format,Acknowledgements vii. Introduction 1,1 Ritual Uncleanness 7,2 Secular Defilement 30. 3 The Abominations of Leviticus 42,4 Magic and Miracle 59. 5 Primitive Worlds 74,6 Powers and Dangers 95,7 External Boundaries 115. 8 Internal Lines 130,9 The System at War with Itself 141.
10 The System Shattered and Renewed 160,Bibliography 181. Acknowledgments, I was first interested in pollution behaviour by Professor Srinivas and the. late Franz Steiner who each as Brahmin and Jew tried in their daily lives to. handle problems of ritual cleanness I am grateful to them for making me. sensitive to gestures of separation classifying and cleansing I next found. myself doing fieldwork in a highly pollution conscious culture in the Congo. and discovered in myself a prejudice against piecemeal explanations I count. as piecemeal any explanations of ritual pollution which are limited to one. kind of dirt or to one kind of context My biggest debt for acknowledgement. is to the source of this prejudice which forced me to look for a systemic. approach No particular set of classifying symbols can be understood in. isolation but there can be hope of making sense of them in relation to the. total structure of classifications in the culture in question. The structural approach has been widely disseminated since the early. decades of this century particularly through the influence of Gestalt. psychology It only made its direct impact on me through Professor Evans. Pritchard s analysis of the political system of the Nuer 1940. The place of this book in anthropology is like the invention of the. frameless chassis in the history of car design When the chassis and the. body of the car were designed separately the two were held together on a. central steel frame In the same way political theory used to take the organs. of central government as the frame of social analysis social and political. institutions could be considered separately Anthropologists were content. to describe primitive political systems by a list of official titles and. assemblies If central government did not exist political analysis was held. Purity and Danger, irrelevant In the 1930s car designers found that they could eliminate the. steel frame if they treated the whole car as a single unit The stresses and. strains formerly carried by the frame are now able to be carried by the body. of the car itself At about the same time Evans Pritchard found that he could. make a political analysis of a system in which there were no central organs. of government and in which the weight of authority and the strains of. political functioning were dispersed through the whole structure of the. body politic So the structural approach was in the air of anthropology. before Levi Strauss was stimulated by structural linguistics to apply it to. kinship and mythology It follows that anyone approaching rituals of. pollution nowadays would seek to treat a people s ideas of purity as part of. a larger whole, My other source of inspiration has been my husband In matters of. cleanness his threshold of tolerance is so much lower than my own that he. more than anyone else has forced me into taking a stand on the relativity of. Many people have discussed chapters with me and I am very grateful for. their criticism particularly the Bellarmine Society of Heythrop College Robin. Horton Father Louis de Sousberghe Dr Shifra Strizower Dr Cecily de. Monchaux Professor Vic Turner and Dr David Pole Some have been kind. enough to read drafts of particular chapters and comment on them Dr G A. Wells on Chapter 1 Professor Maurice Freedman on Chapter 4 Dr Edmund. Leach Dr Ioan Lewis and Professor Ernest Gellner on Chapter 6 Dr Mervyn. Meggitt and Dr James Woodburn on Chapter 9 I am particularly grateful to. Professor S Stein Head of the Department of Hebrew Studies in University. College for his patient corrections of an early draft of Chapter 3 He has not. seen the final version and is not responsible for further mistakes in biblical. scholarship which may have crept in Nor is Professor Daryll Forde who. has frequently read early versions of the book responsible for the final. result I am specially grateful for his criticisms, This book represents a personal view controversial and often premature.
I hope that the specialists into whose province the argument has flowed. will forgive the trespass because this is one of the subjects which has. hitherto suffered from being handled too narrowly within a single discipline. Introduction, The nineteenth century saw in primitive religions two peculiarities which. separated them as a block from the great religions of the world One was. that they were inspired by fear the other that they were inextricably. confused with defilement and hygiene Almost any missionary s or. traveller s account of a primitive religion talks about the fear terror or. dread in which its adherents live The source is traced to beliefs in horrible. disasters which overtake those who inadvertently cross some forbidden. line or develop some impure condition And as fear inhibits reason it can. be held accountable for other peculiarities in primitive thought notably. the idea of defilement As Ricoeur sums it up,La souillure elle m me est peine une. representation et celle ci est noy e dans une,peur sp cifique qui bouche la r flexion avec. la souillure nous entrons au r gne de la Terreur, But anthropologists who have ventured further into these primitive. cultures find little trace of fear Evans Pritchard s study of witchcraft was. made among the people who struck him as the most happy and carefree of. the Sudan the Azande The feelings of an Azande man on finding that he. has been bewitched are not terror but hearty indignation as one of us. might feel on finding himself the victim of embezzlement. The Nuer a deeply religious people as the same authority points out. regard their God as a familiar friend Audrey Richards witnessing the. Purity and Danger, girls initiation rites of the Bemba noted the casual relaxed attitude of.
the performers And so the tale goes on The anthropologist sets out. expecting to see rituals performed with reverence to say the least He. finds himself in the role of the agnostic sightseer in St Peter s shocked at. the disrespectful clatter of the adults and the children playing Roman. shovehalfpenny on the floor stones So primitive religious fear together. with the idea that it blocks the functioning of the mind seems to be a false. trail for understanding these religions, Hygiene by contrast turns out to be an excellent route so long as we. can follow it with some self knowledge As we know it dirt is essentially. disorder There is no such thing as absolute dirt it exists in the eye of the. beholder If we shun dirt it is not because of craven fear still less dread of. holy terror Nor do our ideas about disease account for the range of our. behaviour in cleaning or avoiding dirt Dirt offends against order. Eliminating it is not a negative movement but a positive effort to organise. the environment, I am personally rather tolerant of disorder But I always remember how. unrelaxed I felt in a particular bathroom which was kept spotlessly clean. in so far as the removal of grime and grease was concerned It had been. installed in an old house in a space created by the simple expedient of. setting a door at each end of a corridor between two staircases The decor. remained unchanged the engraved portrait of Vinogradoff the books. the gardening tools the row of gumboots It all made good sense as the. scene of a back corridor but as a bathroom the impression destroyed. repose I who rarely feel the need to impose an idea of external reality at. least began to understand the activities of more sensitive friends In. chasing dirt in papering decorating tidying we are not governed by. anxiety to escape disease but are positively re ordering our environment. making it conform to an idea There is nothing fearful or unreasoning in. our dirt avoidance it is a creative movement an attempt to relate form to. function to make unity of experience If this is so with our separating. tidying and purifying we should interpret primitive purification and. prophylaxis in the same light, In this book I have tried to show that rituals of purity and impurity. create unity in experience So far from being aberrations from the central. project of religion they are positive contributions to atonement By. Introduction, their means symbolic patterns are worked out and publicly displayed. Within these patterns disparate elements are related and disparate. experience is given meaning, Pollution ideas work in the life of society at two levels one largely.
instrumental one expressive At the first level the more obvious one we. find people trying to influence one another s behaviour Beliefs reinforce. social pressures all the powers of the universe are called in to guarantee. an old man s dying wish a mother s dignity the rights of the weak and. innocent Political power is usually held precariously and primitive rulers. are no exception So we find their legitimate pretensions backed by beliefs. in extraordinary powers emanating from their persons from the insignia. of their office or from words they can utter Similarly the ideal order of. society is guarded by dangers which threaten transgressors These. danger beliefs are as much threats which one man uses to coerce another. as dangers which he himself fears to incur by his own lapses from. righteousness They are a strong language of mutual exhortation At this. level the laws of nature are dragged in to sanction the moral code this. kind of disease is caused by adultery that by incest this meteorological. disaster is the effect of political disloyalty that the effect of impiety The. whole universe is harnessed to men s attempts to force one another into. good citizenship Thus we find that certain moral values are upheld and. certain social rules defined by beliefs in dangerous contagion as when. the glance or touch of an adulterer is held to bring illness to his neighbours. or his children, It is not difficult to see how pollution beliefs can be used in a dialogue. of claims and counter claims to status But as we examine pollution beliefs. we find that the kind of contacts which are thought dangerous also carry. a symbolic load This is a more interesting level at which pollution ideas. relate to social life I believe that some pollutions are used as analogies. for expressing a general view of the social order For example there are. beliefs that each sex is a danger to the other through contact with sexual. fluids According to other beliefs only one sex is endangered by contact. with the other usually males from females but sometimes the reverse. Such patterns of sexual danger can be seen to express symmetry or. hierarchy It is implausible to interpret them as expressing something. about the actual relation of the sexes I suggest that many ideas about. Purity and Danger, sexual dangers are better interpreted as symbols of the relation between. parts of society as mirroring designs of hierarchy or symmetry which. apply in the larger social system What goes for sex pollution also goes. for bodily pollution The two sexes can serve as a model for the. collaboration and distinctiveness of social units So also can the processes. of ingestion portray political absorption Sometimes bodily orifices seem. to represent points of entry or exit to social units or bodily perfection can. symbolise an ideal theocracy, Each primitive culture is a universe to itself Following Franz Steiner s. Purity and Danger This remarkable book which is written in a very graceful lucid and polemical style is a symbolic interpretation of the rules of purity and

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